Narrow win for VMRO-DPMNE in Macedonia’s snap election confirmed

By bne IntelliNews December 13, 2016

The governing conservative VMRO-DPMNE party won the December 11 snap general election in Macedonia gaining 51 seats in the parliament, two more than its main rival, but it will be difficult for the party to form a stable majority.

The election was intended to resolve the political crisis in the country, and if VMRO-DPMNE fails to form a stable government the crisis could be prolonged.

The latest election was the tightest race ever between the two parties. The opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) campaigned hard to overthrow Nikola Gruevski’s VMRO-DPMNE, which has ruled the country since 2006. It won 49 seats in the 123-seat parliament, helped by revelations of corruption among top VMRO-DPMNE officials revealed in the 2015 wiretapping scandal. 

According to the state election commission (SEC) data, VMRO-DPMNE won 453,490 votes or 38.09% while SDSM gained 436,604 votes equivalent to 36.67%. Around 1.78mn were eligible to vote. 

Turnout reached a record high of 66.86%, but it was over 70% in three of the six electoral districts. However, the diaspora probably will have no representatives due to the low turnout among Macedonians living abroad.

The ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), a minor partner in the outgoing government, will be represented by 10 MPs, the SEC said.

Three other ethnic Albanian parties will have representatives in the new parliament: the newly formed Besa and the Alliance for Albanians, as well as the more established Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) with five, three and two seats respectively.

The main surprise in the election was the strong performance of the Besa party, which became the second political force representing Macedonia’s large Albanian minority.

Six parties and five coalitions participated in the election, but the other Macedonian contenders failed to secure a place in the parliament.

SEC president Aleksandar Cicakovski said on December 12 that only few complaints about the election results have been filed by political parties so far.

Prior to the announcement, VMRO-DPMNE’s official Vlatko Gjorcev urged the SEC to reveal the official results as quickly as possible to end the "agony of waiting".

“A whole night and day passed and SEC is still refraining from announcing the results. Do not even dare to fabricate the results,” Gjorcev was quoted by news agency MIA.

However, Cicakovski explained that SEC needed additional time to process data from the original ballots as there were concerns that the electronic results from some polling stations did not correspond with those of the original ballots.

Following the announcment, the EU high Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn said in a joint statement that the election offered Macedonia a crucial opportunity to renew a democratic, constructive dialogue to overcome the long-lasting political crisis and unite behind a common objective of Euro-Atlantic integration.

“Political parties need to act in an inclusive manner involving an active parliamentary opposition and a vibrant civil society,” the statement said.

EU officials said they expect a swift formation of the new parliament and the new government and urged for the implementation of reforms to address systemic rule of law issues.

“Government and opposition need to continue implementing previous political agreements in full, including supporting the work of the Special Prosecutor’s Office,” it said.

Earlier on December 12, the Russian ruling party United Russia of Vladimir Putin congratulated VMRO-DPMNE for the election victory.

"I would like to congratulate the VMRO-DPMNE party and all members of the coalition For Better Macedonia for this difficult and well-deserved victory,” the member of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, Sergey Zheleznyak, said in a party statement.

“I wish our Macedonian colleagues successful development of the internal political dialogue and achieve consensus on the formation of a new parliament and government,” Zheleznyak said.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said earlier that fundamental freedoms were generally respected during election in Macedonia, but that cases of voter intimidation and widespread pressure on civil servants were also reported.

According to the legal framework, the constitutive session of the new parliament should be held within 20 days following the elections. President Gjorge Ivanov should give the mandate to the leader of the winning party to form the new government 10 days after the constitutive session. The candidate for prime minister should propose new government within 20 days after that.

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